Ask Our Rabbis – February 26th, 2022

Question: Why is it that Purim is the only Jewish holiday with a Mitzvah to give gifts to the poor?

Answer: The Mitzvah referenced in the question is known as Matanos L’evyonim, and involves giving
at least one food gift or its financial equivalent to two poor people (Shulchan Aruch OC 694:1
based on Megillah 7a). The source for this Mitzvah is Megillah 9:22 “U’matatnos L’evyonimand
gifts to the poor.”

However, it is inaccurate to suggest that Purim is the only holiday with a Mitzvah to support the
poor. In fact, a major but underemphasized aspect of Pesach is Ma’os Chittim, which literally
means “wheat money.” This is charity given so that the poor will be able to have Matzah on
Pesach, along with their other Yom Tov needs (Mishnah Berurah 429:1).1.